Pope, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, face class-action lawsuit from 6 who say they suffered abuse

While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded a three-day meeting this week in Baltimore, a class-action lawsuit was filed against it in Washington.

The suit was filed in Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of six victims of priest sexual abuse and others “similarly situated.” The Baltimore Sun does not name victims of sexual abuse.

Both the conference and the Holy See are defendants in the lawsuit, which alleges they protected clergy instead of children, creating a culture in which rape and sex abuse are “endemic, systemic, rampant and pervasive.”

The suit specifically mentioned the Baltimore meeting, which was to end Wednesday, and the news that the Vatican ordered its attendees not to act on proposed reforms to address the problem of sexual abuse, “thereby kicking the can down the road again.”

James Rogers, chief communications officer for the conference, declined to respond, saying “we don’t comment on pending litigation.”

After a year in which a Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed that hundreds of “predator priests” molested more than 1,000 children over seven decades, and a U.S. cardinal resigned over sexual abuse allegations, the conference was expected to set aside much of its traditionally staid policy-making agenda to address the scandal.

But as the gathering opened Monday, the organization’s president said that at the “insistence” of the Vatican, the American clerics would not vote as planned on steps to address the crisis.

A spokesman for the Vatican could not be immediately reached for comment.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jonathan Pitts contributed to this article.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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